A new therapeutic approach to treating asthma attacks (Jackson Ng)

Jackson Ng

 Professor Paul Foster

Jackson Ng 

University of Newcastle

As a 26 year old young scientist from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science with honours and a Master’s in Medical and Health Sciences, both accolades achieved at International Medical University (IMU), Malaysia.

His gratitude extends to Asthma Australia for supporting his PhD research with distinguished figures like Prof. Paul Foster, Prof. Jay Horvat, Dr. Jessica Barnes, Dr. Hock Tay, Dr. Gerard Kaiko, and Prof. Brian Oliver. This assistance is greatly appreciated on his journey in cutting-edge medical research and the understanding of mechanisms in exacerbation of asthma.

Professor Paul Foster – PhD Supervisor

Paul is the Director of the Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs at the University of Newcastle, an international centre of excellence for discovery and clinical research into asthma. Paul has extensive expertise in leading research teams that have conducted cutting-edge research, which has significantly contributed to the understanding of asthma pathogenesis. Paul is an authority on the role of the immune response and cytokines in the regulation of infectious and chronic inflammatory diseases of the lung, with a primary focus on asthmatic inflammation. Paul’s team played a major role in the preclinical evaluation of type 2 inflammatory molecules in regulating asthma, which underpinned the development of current type 2 biologics that are improving the quality-of-life for severe eosinophilic asthmatics. The team’s current focus is understanding the critical responses in the lung epithelium, in response to infection and allergens, that induce exacerbations that are not responsive current treatments.

Project Status: In progress, commenced 2023

Grant Type: PhD Scholarship

We know that some people with asthma still experience asthma attacks, even though they take their medications correctly.
That’s why we are supporting Jackson Ng in his PhD project which aims to lead us to new treatments for people with asthma!

About the research

This research project supports a PhD student to develop in their career and to help create new knowledge about asthma.

The researchers will be exploring the role of the IL-1 family cytokines in asthma attacks. Cytokines are proteins in the body that act like messengers in the immune system. They signal immune cells to start an immune response, leading to local inflammation.

In their laboratories the researchers will be exploring:

  • What role does the IL-1 cytokine play in asthma attacks caused by infection?
  • What role does the IL-1 cytokine play in asthma attacks caused by thunderstorm asthma?
  • Is there potential to prevent asthma attacks with a new treatment that targets the IL-1 cytokines?

This research is the start of the pathway to new asthma treatments. The researchers aim to establish proof-of-principle. That means they hope to find data which supports the development of new treatments. It might take 10 years before this medication is available to people with asthma, but we are proud to be supporting the beginning of this pathway.

Why was funding this research important?

Asthma has a major impact on individuals, their carers and Australia’s health system. Asthma attacks, commonly caused by infections and allergies, can be difficult to control even when taking medications correctly.

By developing new asthma medications, which treat different pathways in the body, we hope to reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks in the future. Fewer asthma attacks will allow people with asthma to more fully participate in their lives and thrive.

“We are honoured to receive this support that will underpin the identification of pathways regulating asthma attacks that are poorly regulated by current treatments. New approaches are urgently required. The gift will also support early career researchers providing experience in supervision of the next generation of asthma researchers.” – Professor Paul Foster